You know the drill when it comes to Halloween — beware of ghosts, goblins, and scary clowns. But there’s one major thing that’s scarier than all of that, combined: an empty bank account. Cause of death? Pesky financial vampires who suck your finances dry.
You know who I’m talking about — those best friends who insist on dining at the fanciest, wallet-draining restaurant in town. Or your significant other who uses the life blood of your joint checking account for a late-night online shopping splurge. And then there are your parents, who will show their fangs unless the whole family vacations together at the finest resort in the Bahamas this year.
Your bank account balance now? Too close to $0. The horror!
If this sounds like you, don’t worry — you’re not alone. According to Guardian’s Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence, nearly 3/4ths of Americans are stressed about money and feel financially unprepared. What’s more, 2/3 of Americans admit that they are not good at living within their means—letting the financial vampires suck the life out of them, and their financial future.
So how can you put a stake in these financial blood-suckers once and for all? Try these tips to shed some light on your spending and ward off the vampires — no garlic required.
COUNT YOUR DOLLARS LIKE DRACULA
I know, budgets are no fun, but they can help you get back on track and help you have better money habits. You can do this on your own, by writing down where each cent goes (much like a dieter counts calories).1 Or you could also depend on technology — there are plenty of apps, like Mint, that you can use to help track and limit your spending on the inessentials, like that $5 daily latte or that too-often dinner at a triple $-rated restaurant.
Tell the Edward Cullens of your life that you’ll shine on by brewing your own cup of Joe and opting for dinner at home instead.
HAVE A STASH TO CUT YOUR TEETH ON
Saving money can be a literal pain in the neck, but you’ll be glad you did it. Using coupons, taking advantage of sales, and setting up an automatic periodic transfer from your checking to your savings account 2 can help you put the life back into your drained savings account. Keep this stash alive by only dipping into it for emergencies — and not a beach vacation.
REDUCE YOUR APPETITE FOR DEBT
As anyone who has a loan or credit card knows, interest rates can really suck. Get rid of this invisible vampire by halting your pay-with-plastic dependency, because there’s a good chance all your extra cash is being swallowed by constant credit card payments with finance charges.3Focus on paying off the debt and keeping the card in your wallet — or just put a stake in it once and for all.
TAME YOUR INNER SPENDING THIRST
Sure, you can blame your family and friends’ extravagant tastes on your current state of broke, but here’s a reality check: You can be your own financial vampire. You’re an adult and you make your own choices, but there’s often a gap between what we say we want and how we behave. At the end of the day, you need to make sure you’re making smart choices in order to slay your budget like Buffy. By setting a clear vision for what you really want in the future, you’ll be motivated to stay on track today.
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2018-65741 Exp. 10/2020
1 US News: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-ways-to-cut-your-spending-this-week
2,3 Bankrate: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/savings/save-money-on-a-tight-budget-1.aspx
Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence, 2016.